UConn could win it all, only to lose it all

The Huskies are going to the Final Four! Not the real Huskies, but the UConn ones, and they are already headed down a familiar road traveled by the Washington ones: Winning it all and losing it all and doing so all at the same time. I call it the 'Fame and Shame' effect of college sports.

It's sort of like paying the ultimate price for success: Win the national championship, then be embarrassed by an NCAA scandal and the resulting investigation, answering to all the charges, and finally paying restitution in the form of sanctions and/or scholarship penalties. Sounds a bit familiar doesn't it? Considering they are also called the Huskies makes it almost eerie.

Oh, they'll get to keep the prize if they win it all, but this one only promises to get messier once finals are over. The difficult part about this is that the kid at the center of the UConn situation isn't even on the team anymore. Similarly most of the accusations made against Washington after we won our football championship were made by kids who either were kicked off our team or never even became Huskies.

I think UConn Head Coach Jim Calhoun has put together a terrific team and really think they have a chance, but for this scandal to rear its head at this time is both distracting and was obviously done on purpose. Yahoo Sports has gotten more recognition with this then they normally receive on the national sports scene. The last time Yahoo Sports made headlines was with the Reggie Bush/USC mess. The Yahoo journalists used documents and interviews obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Sound familiar?

Coach Calhoun works at a public institution and therefore they have to turn over everything, and I mean everything, upon request from the prying media: All your phone records, text messages, letters, computers, or anything in your office can be examined (of course private schools like USC don't have to comply).

At least Calhoun is in the Big East, where they care about their basketball, and you won't find that conference eating their own like the Pac-10 does. Still, they have to respond just like the NCAA will, and that is exactly what Yahoo Sports intended.

Coach Calhoun and his team and staff can obviously use this as a rallying point and they are indeed talented enough to win it all. But come on! Yahoo Sports claimed to be working on the story for six months and had to release it right at the start of the tournament?

Washington's football scandal of 1993 broke at the end of the season and we immediately lost a game to an Arizona team that we should have easily beaten. Considering we were undefeated at the time, our accusers certainly accomplished their goal of disrupting our team.

UConn are probably already guilty of some infractions, at the very least Lack of Institutional Control. But if they, Yahoo Sports and the NCAA have evidence that the ex-manager, Josh Nochinson, who is now an agent, did in fact have communication with assistant coaches on Calhoun's staff, then it only promises to go deeper.

Yahoo's reporters claim at least 1,500 phone or text messages occurred between UConn's coaching staff and the kid and/or his agent, relatives or guardians. Most of those were in violation of NCAA restrictions on communications between coaches and prospects, similar to the behavior of Kelvin Sampson at Indiana. This kid, however, also received free lodging, transportation, and meals - also major violations of rules.

I realize that agents are a real problem in the sport of basketball simply because there are a lot of one-and-dones in that sport. Agents try to get their paws on kids as early as in junior high school and get them into camps and other events to help their exposure. If the kid is successful they are already in the front door and ready to represent them.

Regardless, it appears to me that someone revealed all of this on purpose simply because of the timing. Why not wait until the season was over so as not to hurt the innocent kids in the UConn program? None of them have anything to do with this, yet they are the ones who could feel the brunt of any penalties levied by the NCAA, which is very much in line with how the NCAA operates. Yahoo Sports has gotten millions of hits so you know they're willing accomplices, but isn't it slimy, sleazy, and great reading?

Think of how big the explosion will be if UConn does beat Michigan State and then the winner of the Villanova-North Carolina game? Yahoo will be saying Yahoooooo! and of course the Huskies will get screwed again.

The player at the center of the controversy, Nate Miles, was a 6-foot-7 scoring machine that many compared to George Gervin. Miles was a terrible student and had been shopped around at the high school level, attending five different high schools in four different states. He now attends junior college in Idaho at the same school that gave Seattle University the great Elgin Baylor. He was thrown out of UConn on harassment charges, so he has an obvious axe to grind. It's just another of many similarities between UConn's investigation and what happened back in the day with UW.

So far the Huskies of UConn have been successful in overcoming the distractions and considering Miles and Nochinson are no longer at the school it will probably not damage Calhoun that much. He doesn't have an Athletic Director who will turn his back on the program like Washington did so he will probably receive a slap on the wrist. Of course, the more his relationship with the agent is reviewed the deeper he could be pulled in. Hopefully his school stands by him and doesn't force him to resign.

I've seen that happen.


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